"Air Restaurant Petrovice" on the rubble of my parents' house

The Russian aircraft, transported to Peterswald and converted into “Air Restaurant Petrovice”, seems to be becoming a landmark in Northern Bohemia. It can be seen on postcards that also depict the history of the aircraft. If the barely fifty-year history of this aircraft is of interest, then the house, which has existed for at least 200 years, on whose ruins it stands, would have to be of greater importance; because the construction of the house is linked to an interesting chapter of North Bohemian history, namely the post-coaching period so lucrative for the border town of Peterswald.

Since its founding in the 13th century, the “salt road” has led through Peterswald, where the vital salt was brought from the Sorbenlande in the area around Halle an der Saale to Bohemia. The way from Prague there pointed the Elbe to Aussig. There, a road of the river cut off eastern arc that led over the heights of the Erzgebirge through Peterswald to the Saale. This path is still clearly recognizable today as a simple dirt road and led in some places, as in Peterswald, the name ‘Salzstrasse’. 1

For more than five hundred years, the trading route through Peterswald was known exclusively as the Salt Road. Since the middle of the 18th century, it has also been known as Poststrasse, because in 1752 Bohemia and Saxony had agreed to have postal services in both directions once a week. In 1754, postal traffic was doubled, and later even daily on every day of the week. In 1755 Austria officially introduced the personal mail. Peterswald spurred 36 horses.

The busy passenger and freight traffic allowed the village to grow considerably. In 1830 it already had 375 houses and 2242 inhabitants. In comparison, the city of Aussig at the same time had only 321 houses and 1759 inhabitants. The associated prosperity was felt even the “Lower Tavern”, only 200 meters off the state border, 2 , the innkeeper Hantschel renamed the now often returning to him carters in honor to the inn “Zum Schwarzen Ross”. The inn was also known as ” Kastanienhof ” because of the tree decoration that surrounded the house on the street and south gable side. Of the once 6 chestnuts still stands today and spreads out her flower dress every spring.

When the “Schwarze Ross” was no longer able to cope with the heavy traffic through Peterswald, host Hantschel had a hotel built around 200 years ago on the site on which the “Air Restaurant Petrovice” stands today. This house , which was numbered 352, was 45 meters long and about 20 meters wide. On two times 900 square meters hotel and living room, a dance hall, restoration, cellars and stables for accommodation of draft horses were housed.

After the opening of the State Railway Prague-Dresden on 6 April 1851, the Poststrasse over Peterswald, which was formerly the shortest route from Dresden to Prague and Vienna, had lost their meaning. My great-great-grandfather bought the Kastanienhof. The opposite Hotel No. 352 was first converted into a velvet factory and later by my grandfather to the metal goods factory, 3 after he had purchased the house. It became known as the “Püschelmühle button factory” and delivered, among other things, press buttons to Russia and fashion buttons to India.   After my grandfather’s death in 1927, my father inherited all landed property, including the Kastanienhof and the house No. 352, which became my childhood home in 1934. After the collapse in 1945, my father with Famlie and other 3 million Sudeten Germans was   first disenfranchised by the so-called Benešdekrete, then expropriated, and expelled on 27 August 1946 from his beloved Peter Forest. 4

In 1991, I visited Peterswald with my mother. The house no. 352 was not standing for a long time. The property on which it once stood was empty and overgrown with weeds. “What may they have done to the rubble of our big house?” My mother asked. I looked down. We stood on a small elevation above the road. The ground floor of the house was once ground level with the street. “We stand on its ruins,” I explained.

In June 2001, my wife and I were almost in the same place where I stood 10 years earlier with my mother. The property was well maintained and in front of us was the “Air Restaurant Petrovice” converted Soviet plane. Coca Cola could be read on its elevator, and hectic tourism cavorted in and around the “Air Restaurant Petrovice”. I invited my wife to a cup of coffee with apple strudel. She refused, with tears in her eyes, to enter the plane. I understood. We not only stood on the rubble of my parents ‘home, but also on those of a considerable part of my parents’ possessions, and their happiness.